TOPLINE At least 345 people in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh have been hospitalized with an unidentified illness that includes a range of symptoms like seizures, nausea, loss of consciousness and has led to at least one fatality — potentially creating another public health challenge as the region continues to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.
- The outbreak of the illness has centered around the town of Eluru, with the sole fatality being a 45-year-old man, who died on Sunday.
- The cause of the illness has yet to be established but local authorities said that all patients, currently 345, have tested negative for Covid-19, ruling it out as a possible cause, the Hindustan Timesreported.
- YS Jaganmohan Reddy, the state’s chief minister, visited the patients on Monday while the regional opposition party has accused him and his government of mishandling the situation while suggesting that the illness may have been caused by contaminated water supply.
- The government, however, has claimed that water samples from the affected areas showed no signs of contamination and no viral infections were detected among the patients.
Calling the situation in Eluru just “the tip of an iceberg,” former Andhra Pradesh chief minister and current opposition leader N Chandrababu Naidu accused the government of negligence, tweeting: “Can there be a more unfortunate & bigger failure than this? The Eluru water contamination incident calls for a declaration of Health Emergency in Andhra Pradesh.”
871,972: That’s the total number of cases of Covid-19 the state of Andhra Pradesh has recorded so far making it the third worst-hit state in India. The state has recorded 7,033 deaths from the disease. India has the second-highest number of Covid-19 infections after the U.S., with 9.6 million cases as of Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
Earlier this year, 11 people died in Andhra Pradesh after a chemical gas from a factory run by LG Polymers leaked near the city of Visakhapatnam. Thousands of people had reported being sick after the incident and hundreds had been admitted to hospitals, with some needing to go on ventilators. The incident had forced the state to divert resources like ambulances, away from Covid-19 cases to help treat those affected by the leak.
-By Siladitya Ray, Forbes Staff